Recent quotes:

mistakes

. So much of lived experience is composed of what lies beyond our agency and prediction, beyond our grasp, beyond our imagining. In the perfected landscapes of Second Life, I kept remembering what a friend had once told me about his experience of incarceration: Having his freedom taken from him meant not only losing access to the full range of the world’s possible pleasure, but also losing access to the full range of his own possible mistakes. Maybe the price of a perfected world, or a world where you can ostensibly control everything, is that much of what strikes us as “experience” comes from what we cannot forge ourselves, and what we cannot ultimately abandon.

You gotta do to be

Researchers from the University of Ottawa and the University of Rochester asked college students to focus over a ten-day period on increasing either meaning (for example, pursuing excellence and personal growth, practicing gratitude, showing kindness toward others, engaging in introspection) or amusement and pleasure (sleeping more, watching television, shopping, eating sweets). They found that the students who focused on pleasurable activities felt an immediate boost in happiness over the first ten days, but only those who focused on meaningful activities experienced a sustained increase over the subsequent three weeks. Pursuing meaningful activities, the researchers concluded, “was generally related to elevating experience.”

Running away

For four years my strategy had been deflecting and defending from my past—running away from my hometown just as I ran around a forehand. But I realized there are no rules that must be kept; you can stay the same or you can change. You’ll never be lovelier than you are now. Strategies need only be temporary.

Monster tornado gives teens epic prom photo

Could meditation really help slow the ageing process?

When the researchers crunched the data they found that the meditators’ telomeres were significantly longer than those of the controls, by an average of 10%. They then used a statistical technique called regression analysis to get an idea which factors might be directly responsible for this apparent slowing of cellular ageing. Many psychological traits were associated with having longer telomeres, including greater mindfulness skills, life satisfaction and subjective happiness. But the statistical analysis suggested that only younger age, low “experiential avoidance” and high self-compassion were directly responsible for longer telomeres.

A turn in the road

In the waiting room, the family across from me has brought in food for dinner. They are just opening their Styrofoam containers when a woman approaches, bends to speak with the father, a hand on his shoulder. The daughter leans in, and the son, and the two others I realize must be their partners. Suddenly, the room is spinning. The food drops to the floor. The father just sits there, hands to his face, shaking his head, but the children are weeping, then wailing. Someone stands, staggers, drops to the floor. They all rush out, food wrappers and bags abandoned. It can happen that swiftly, the end of life as we know it. Then, too, time can creep so slowly, even a minute seems endless.

Measuring life in activities

Instead of measuring your life in units of time, you can measure it in activities or events. To use myself as an example: I’m 34, so let’s be super optimistic and say I’ll be hanging around drawing stick figures till I’m 90.1 If so, I have a little under 60 winters left:

Building a Small Sailboat

And for a decade and a half TPM has been both my work, my hobby, my living, in a word, my everything. As work, it is all words and symbols. I love it. In some ways I am it. But there’s nothing physical or tactile or concrete about it. Woodworking was filling some void in me that I hadn’t known existed.

Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer

I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight. Advertisement Continue reading the main story Advertisement Continue reading the main story This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well). Continue reading the main story Recent Comments CT February 19, 2015 As the mother of an autistic child with a brilliant, very alive mind I thank you deeply for helping open minds to all of the wonderful human... Nightwood February 19, 2015 Dear Dr. Sacks. Some people say there are no miracles in this immense universe. Still, some how you popped up and became a walking, two... Diane McIntyre February 19, 2015 Dr Sacks, you are-- and have been-- my hero. Live with verve. See All Comments I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends.

Career as a Venn diagram

Jad Abumrad’s carefully planned vision came undone when he realized he wasn’t suited for the job he thought his major pointed toward. He had studied music composition and creative writing at Oberlin College and Conservatory, intending to score films. “That didn’t really work out. I just wasn’t very good at it. And so, at a certain point, I just gave it up. I thought my plan was wrong.” […]He was ready to start from scratch when his girlfriend reasoned that he didn’t have to abandon what he’d worked toward. “She made the suggestion, ‘You kind of like to write. You kind of like to make music. You’re not really good at either on their own terms, but maybe you could somehow find the middle ground. Try out radio.’ ” It wasn’t a seamless transition — he began by working for free — but he stuck it out, creating a style of radio that fuses science and storytelling with music and sound. As a producer and host of WNYC’s “Radiolab,” his job is eerily close to what he originally imagined for himself, scoring films; he just had to stretch his thinking to get there.

Life's turns

On Christmas Eve of 1992, Puddicombe was eighteen*, and studying sports science at De Montfort University, when he left a party with a group of friends. A drunk driver plowed into the crowd, killing several people and putting twelve others in intensive care. Puddicombe wasn’t hurt, but he witnessed everything. Soon afterward, his stepsister died in a bicycling accident. He couldn’t shake the tragedies. “They lurked in the mind,” he told me. Back at school, sports no longer interested him; neither did partying. One day, in his dorm room, Puddicombe had a strange experience. “It’s a very difficult thing to put into words,” he told me. “I felt—the only way I can say it is ‘deeply moved.’ ” The feeling lasted for several hours, Puddicombe said. When it ended, he knew what to do with his life: become a Buddhist monk. “It didn’t feel like a choice,” he said.

Marrying a student, living with a Beatle

She ended her engagement to another man, he broke up with his girlfriend, and they began dating. It was during this period, Ms. Lennon said, that she first dealt with his jealousy and anger. She said that he smacked her in the face for dancing with another man, after which she broke up with him for several months.She became pregnant in 1962 and married Lennon on Aug. 23, just weeks before the Beatles recorded their first single, “Love Me Do.” She was ill prepared for the fame that engulfed John and his bandmates.“I didn’t marry a Beatle,” she told the British newspaper The Independent in 1999. “I married a broke student who played the guitar and ponced all my grant money off me.”

Getting on a new line at SXSW

A couple of years ago, tired of session chasing, I jumped into the next line I saw, which happened to be for Jeffrey Tambor's Actor's Workshop. Pushing a couple of young actors through multiple versions of a break-up scene, Tambor awakened in me a vision of the moment's edge. Life tempts us to stick to rehearsed scripts, but every word and step can unlock infinite alternative universes. — Henry Copeland

Marina Abramovic's odd jobs

“We milked the goats in Sardinia to get sausages and bread. … We made [sweaters] and sell them on the market,” says Abramovic. For one month, Abramovic even worked as a mail carrier in London—which didn’t end well. “First it took me so long time to deliver all the letters,” she says. “And I decide that every letter who was written with typewriter machine must be bad news or a bill, and I throw them away. And I only deliver letters written by hand and become much faster. Only beautiful letters. After four weeks working, they could not prove anything, but they asked me to give back uniform, which I did.”

Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer

I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight. […] This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).[…]I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer look at “NewsHour” every night.

Carr's Night of the Gun: Remembering Only What We Can Stand To Remember

In the Ebbinghaus curve, or forgetting curve, R stands for memory retention, s is the relative strength of memory, and t is time. The power of a memory can be built through repetition, but it is the memory we are recalling when we speak, not the event. And stories are annealed in the telling, edited by turns each time they are recalled until they become little more than chimeras. People remember what they can live with more often than how they lived.
In fiction, a MacGuffin (sometimes McGuffin or maguffin) is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation. The specific nature of a MacGuffin is typically unimportant to the overall plot. The most common type of MacGuffin is an object, place or person; other, more abstract types include money, victory, glory, survival, power, love, or some unexplained driving force.
1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. […] 2. Don’t use passive voice. […] 3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.” […]6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.” 7. Read, read, read. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” 8. Don’t worry about making other people happy.[…] 9. Turn off the TV. […] 10. You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”
Kerry Lou Ketchum King, aka Mama Bear, Ms. King, Mom, Big Blonde Tiger, Helga, and Speak No Evil, shuffled off this mortal coil June 17 at 4:20 a.m. in her sleep. One can only assume late-night TV literally bored her to death. […] She was the Lorelai Gilmore to her daughter's Rory and the two had the inseparable bond only a single parent/only child team can have. […]Her daughter wishes to express her condolences to everyone who didn't have a mom as staggeringly stupendous as hers. Really, you missed out. She is survived by […]one slightly brain-addled Chocolate Lab, Hershey, countless brilliant friends and two Jeep Grand Cherokees that will most likely survive the nuclear holocaust along with cockroaches and Keith Richards.
Through the ages, most answers have cited dark forces that uniquely affect the teen. Aristotle concluded more than 2,300 years ago that "the young are heated by Nature as drunken men by wine." A shepherd in William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale wishes "there were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting." His lament colors most modern scientific inquiries as well. G. Stanley Hall, who formalized adolescent studies with his 1904 Adolescence: Its Psychology and Its Relations to Physiology, Anthropology, Sociology, Sex, Crime, Religion and Education, believed this period of "storm and stress" replicated earlier, less civilized stages of human development. Freud saw adolescence as an expression of torturous psychosexual conflict; Erik Erikson, as the most tumultuous of life's several identity crises. Adolescence: always a problem.
Once a manuscript leaves your desk, subject matter is the primary (and often only) way it is discussed. So if you haven’t figured out a quick way to answer that cringe-inducing question “What’s your book about?” in a way that interests other people, somebody else will. And that will be how the book is sold, how it’s marketed and publicized, and largely how it finds its way to readers. In the glut of a given publishing week, where reviewers and editors have galleys piled by the dates on their spines, books are judged by their covers — or at least by their tag lines. This is just the reality: The people deciding which books to push and which ones to skip don’t have time to read everything. So while I still think it’s a mistake to consider the market as a primary factor in writing anything, in the future if I’m drawn to two projects equally[…]
It’s not exactly rock ’n’ roll, but the woman who really changed Sting’s life – sorry, Trudie – was the Queen Mother. Young Gordon Sumner, dressed in his Sunday best almost 50 years ago, was mesmerised as her Rolls-Royce swished past the front door of his street in Wallsend, North Tyneside. […]The biggest vessels on the planet were hammered, welded and built there long before Gordon became Sting (named for wearing a black-and-yellow jersey, like a wasp).‘The Queen Mum waved and looked at me, and I looked back at her and that was it,’ he says. ‘There and then I thought, I am going to be rich, famous, successful and drive a Rolls-Royce like her.’He decided he would use his voice and guitar to get a big house in the country, great wealth and acclaim. And so it all came to pass
“Have you ever sailed across an ocean, Donald? On a sailboat surrounded by sea with no land in sight, without even the possibility of sighting land for days to come? To stand at the helm of your destiny? I want that one more time. I want to be in the Piazza del Campo in Siena, to feel the surge as ten racehorses go thundering by. I want another meal in Paris at L’Ambroisie  in the place des Vosges. I want another bottle of wine and then another. I want the warmth of a woman in the cool set of sheets. One more night of jazz at the Vanguard. I want to stand on summits and smoke Cubans and feel the sun on my face for as long as I can. Walk on the Wall again. Climb the Tower. Ride the River. Stare at the frescos. I want to sit in the garden and read one more good book. Most of all I want to sleep. I want to sleep like I slept when I was a boy. Give me that. Just one time. That’s why I won’t allow that punk out there to get the best of me, let alone the last of me.”
Fortunately, he had anticipated his own weakness and prepared an explanatory message for the moment, in case he couldn’t find the words to speak. He’d written it on the front flyleaf of a Bible. It read: “I HAVE SINNED AGAINST THE LORD AND AGAINST YOU! WILL YOU FORGIVE ME?” Silently, he handed the Bible to Chikane, pulled a rag and bowl out of his briefcase, slid off the chair onto his knees, and bowed his head. Finally, stutteringly, he asked Chikane, “Frank, please, would you allow me to wash your feet?”Chikane sat back in his chair, and in his confusion, he laughed. “But why would you want to do that?”“I must humble myself before you,” Vlok murmured. “For what we did, for what we were trying to do.”Chikane’s grin vanished. “I can see you are really serious,” he said. He leaned forward in his chair, removed his shoes, and peeled off his black socks. With a quivering hand, Vlok took a glass of water off Chikane’s desk, poured it into the basin, sprinkled it onto Chikane’s naked toes, and dried them carefully with the rag. And then both men dissolved into tears.
"The only way in which inequalities between short- and long-lived can be attenuated is by having everyone spend a little more and work a little less early in life," said Fleurbaey. "That way, for those who are unlucky and die prematurely, their life is not as bad economically as it would be if they had planned to enjoy more consumption and leisure later."
Kataria (colloquially known as the Guru of Giggling) is the creator of Laughter Yoga. Created in 1995, the practise is a combination of yogic breathing (pranayama), and voluntary laughter. Purely laughter though — no jokes, humour, or comedy. The idea is that your brain doesn’t register the difference between fake and real laughter, and it produces the same endorphins regardless, resulting in enhanced well-being. Kataria claims that laughter “helps you to unwind the negative effects of stress, and also boosts your immune system”. There are more than 6,000 Laughter Clubs, in over 60 countries, and a quick search for ‘Laughter Yoga London’ brings up a group with almost 450 members. If you can’t attend a physical Laughter Club, there are Skype Laughter Clubs. Similarly, there are Telephone Laughter Clubs in the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.